The Lough Ree Sub Aqua Club in Lanesboro, County Longford has experienced more than its share of tragedy since it was founded in 1983, following the drowning of a local man in a boating tragedy.
A Search and Recovery unit since its foundation, its divers, who hail from several of the surrounding counties, have been involved in hundreds of missions, not just in the Midlands, but across the country.
Club members were among a team of over 160 divers who worked in parallel with Naval Service and Garda water unit divers in the largest underwater search in the history of the state following the Rescue 116 crash in Mayo last March.
Club Chairman, Michael Farrell, who first became involved 12 years ago, points out that they must be ready for a call-out at any time.
“When you come back to the clubhouse from a mission, you get the equipment ready to go again, regardless of the time of day or night. It has to be that way.”
Equipment is expensive, running costs are high and Michael says that without the fundraising support of the local community, it would be impossible to survive.
National Lottery Funding for Good Causes
A recent €10,000 National Lottery grant allowed them to purchase a set of 13 Dry Suits, a vital component in their kit, enabling them to withstand colder temperatures and remain in the water longer.
“Up until then, everyone has their own personal Dry Suit, and the wear and tear on them is huge. It is fantastic now to have the set there at the clubhouse for use by the unit,” he said.
What helps the morale of clubs like this is knowing the support they give families in their greatest hour of need.
“It doesn’t always run smoothly, but what keeps everyone going is the thank-you letter that will come from the family. It focuses everyone’s mind again.”
Approximately 30 cent of every €1 spent on games go back to National Lottery funding for Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage. Over €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €210 million for such good causes.